We Can Only Learn To Love By Loving – Rumi

A Virtues Project card blinked at me from its glass holder on my desk:

Quote on the back of this card: "Just don't give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there's love and inspiration, I don't think you can go wrong." - Ella Fitzgerald


I phoned Linda Kavelin Popov, co-creator of the Virtues Project, the other day.  I had a message for her.

“Oh Amy!  What a surprise!  A message?  From whom?”

“It’s from me, Linda.”

I could sense the sideways grin forming on her beautiful face.  Then, she said, “Okay…what’s the message?”  Her tone confirmed her impish smile was in place.

“I love you.”

Our laughter blended in shared celebration.  Both of us delight in knowing this is the freedom we can afford one another!  I had no need for embarrassment, explanation or “slurpiness”.  I had just read an article she had written and wanted to re-confirm my appreciation and respect for her positive contribution to the world.

The Virtues Project exists around the globe, at a grass roots level, customized for specific needs of culture, creed and custom.

At one point, in 1997, Linda hired me as the Communications Director for the Project.  As Linda circumnavigated the globe giving presentations and training sessions to people of various nations, I received and responded to communications that were ever growing.

I had found my niche.  I loved everything about the Virtues Project, including starting every meeting with a Virtues Pick.  One of the Cards would be chosen and each of us would talk for a minute or so about the meaning of that Virtue in our lives.  Sometimes it was a chance to acknowledge an act of virtue and other times it was a reminder for us to put that virtue into practice.

We were in the midst of building a global route for Linda’s next major tour.  We knew Oprah was going to call which meant that Linda would have to contort into another time demand, but we had to forge ahead.

Linda was in Australia the day the call came in.  I happened to be the one who answered the phone.  “No, Linda’s not here, she’s in Australia.  Would you like the phone number of the hotel where she’s staying?” I said to one of Oprah’s producers.

“Well, it may not be a good idea to call now considering time zones, etc.”

“I know she’d rather be awakened than miss the call,”  I said, not wanting to grovel.

“When is she heading back to Canada?”

“Not for another two weeks.”

“We’ll have to arrange another date.  We need her here next week.  We have a time we could bring her in, but if she’s in Australia…”

Obviously this was before Skype, Live Video or any other internet capabilities.

“Maybe she could manage to whip out from Australia and and then return.”

“No…we’ll have to call again.  Thank you.”

I had just let the opportunity of a lifetime slip away. I emailed Linda full of regret.  She assured me that if it’s meant to be, we’d have another chance when she’s available.

Though I appreciated her response, Linda seemed somewhat preoccupied –  almost uncaring about her chance to be on the Oprah Show.

I made a mental note to ask about that when she returned and continued arranging dates for various countries.  The major tour was finally coming together.

One morning, after Linda’s return from Australia, she came to the office looking as tired as the day she arrived home.  “I haven’t been able to catch that second wind that comes after a couple of day’s rest,” she said.  She spent less time at the office.

We thought it was a bad case of the flu. “That airplane air is the culprit,” the office staff concluded.

A few days later, at our morning meeting, Linda explained that her doctor had confirmed she was suffering from Post Polio Syndrome.  The medical profession was just discovering the people who survived polio as children were being revisited with its symptoms 50 years later.  The doctor laid clear, firm boundaries:

  • The stress in her life had to be eliminated.
  • Her travel had to stop.
  • She had to develop a routine of rest and relaxation.

Consequently, she informed us, the office would be shut down.  Her husband and she would look after administration.

She confirmed she would keep the Virtues Project alive.  It would continue in some way that would simplify her life.

We, her staff of three, were mortified.  It was far more than the loss of a job…it was the loss of contributing to a project we loved.  It was the loss of contributing to a process that significantly changed attitudes and relationships within families, communities and cultures.

“What does Post Polio Syndrome do, Linda?” I asked.

“Apparently throughout my life I’ve been using tons of energy.  If you and I were walking uphill, I would keep pace with you – no problem.  What we wouldn’t know is that I was using four times more energy to go up that hill.  After 50 years of that, the body contains a diminished energy supply.”

The Virtue Card “Perseverance” personifies the determination we saw in Linda.  The lines on the reverse side of the card could be her voice:

  • I have a strong sense of purpose.
  • I have the will to overcome obstacles.
  • I remain committed to what I want to do.
  • I am determined to finish what I start.
  • I am trustworthy in my relationships.
  • I do what it takes to stay the course.

Linda has persevered.  She did a fifteen minute segment on the Oprah Show.

With more time available, she used her intuitive powers, determined how to protect herself while maintaining the Virtues Project, and wrote a book about it.  She wrote “A Pace of Grace”, outlining the principles she has uses to keep the vitality of both the Project and her health.

As Ms. Fitzgerald said, “Where there’s love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.”

Linda certainly hasn’t.

I love her for that!


55 thoughts on “We Can Only Learn To Love By Loving – Rumi

  1. OMG Amy…I read that article this week too, and it was so meaningful right in the moment for me…but then I read the above, and another synchronicity. That Post Polio Syndrome let off a lightbulb in my head. I have battled (persevered) through Chronic Fatigue (Myalgic Encephalitis) for over 12 years now. It was triggered by the polio vaccine, which was administered twice to me as a small child! (by mistake apparently). There were no symptoms until I turned 30 and then the world turned upside down. The pace of grace is SO important to everyone, and I really need to remember it…not just sometimes, but daily, hourly, every moment. I thank Linda for writing her book and making her cards, and I love you both for being in my life.

    • It’s becoming uncanny how many times our paths cross, Rasma. Have we got the message yet? Ah…are we to be in each others’ life? 😀

      You really decided to deal with a whole load of medical issues in this incarnation, did you not? Wow. Now you add CF – over doubled-up polio vaccine ?! Mon Dieu.

      Think it’s time for a tea soon!

  2. Oh wow, what a special story, so beautifully shared – thank you, Amy. It’s a treasure to consistently find such timely and true inspiration on your blog. I love the sound of the virtues project and will have a look for “A Pace of Grace”…exquisite name. Thanks again! XO

  3. Hi,
    I love the way “Perseverance” is worded so very true.
    I have never heard of Post Polio Syndrome, it must be very hard on your friend to have to go through that, but what a very inspirational person.

    • Hi Mags. No one knew PPS would happen…suddenly all these folks 50+ in years were experiencing their old polio symptoms. Such a scary situation. Thank goodness Linda was diagnosed as quickly as she was. To have lived in ignorance of the source – with that fear and diminished energy – would have been massively discouraging and heartbreaking.

  4. What an amazing story. How blessed and fortunate you were to work on this with Linda, an amazing administrator for a visionary project.
    As I look at your title I reflect we can only learn to live/love by loving. You visited my recent post and I thank you for that. There’s more to that story. When we didn’t have a boat, a very dear friend who suffers from Post Polio Syndrome, took my daughters and me out on his boat. He had already explained his illness as you described above, and all the while he remained captain of his boat. I was inspired by his living, all the energy he put in to it for us, others and himself on something he loves so much.

    • Another great example of perseverance in action! Good for your friend, Georgette. I hope he has found his pace, too – especially since he is not about to give up his love for sailing.

  5. Amazing story. People living and functioning with these chronic diseases are so inspiring. Makes me very much regret the little bit of productivity I lose when I have a cold.

  6. What a beautiful tribute to a phenomenal lady! What a blessing Linda has been to the world, and how wonderful for you to have been a part of it, We must first take care of ourselves in order to do for others…Linda is a wise woman to arrange her love for this project to be conducive to her health.

    • On the button, SuziCate! Linda knew the only way she could maintain the Project she loves was to turn the corner completely and look at new routes. She’s done a great job and I suspect it has helped that she is a very disciplined and determined human being. She has the stuff needed to make a success out of a great concept.

  7. What a great message and story to go with it that, while we persevere, we may need to make adjustments. That is what struck me the most about what you have written, here. Our challenges may come from physical setbacks but, truly enough, they could also come from other adjustments we need to make in life. Thumbs up on a great reminder for each of us to not QUIT but refashion!

    • Yes, Leslie…to not QUIT. I like the word “refashion”. When we love something or someone with enough depth, refashioning can be a welcome renovation instead of a disappointing loss!

  8. That was a great message for lots of people–including me. I think I used up a lot of my energy earlier in life and now I have entered a time of forced rejuvenation. Every time I begin to feel better and push myself, I experience a set-back. It’s hard to “not do” when I feel well; but it’s even harder to feel sick after feeling so well.

    Thanks for the reminder…

    • I agree, Lorna, about it being hard to be less than 100% when used to being well. I’ve always been healthy. Now as little things crop up, I find it very hard to be graceful in my acceptance or new routine or healing period. I do think about people who live with pain constantly and wonder how they have been so reasonable! 😀

  9. As I was reading, I kept wondering . . . Why isn’t Amy still working there?

    It’s sad that she had to close the office. Life is a challenging creature, indeed.

    • When the diagnosis first came in, Linda offered to sell a segment of the program to one of the other staff (a business man who’s been my friend for years) and me. He desperately wanted us to “go for it” and I wouldn’t. The medical profession had no idea where PPS would take a person’s health and our livelihood would rely solely on Linda’s level of availability and activity. She wasn’t about to delegate her speaking engagements – it would take a person with great presence and speaking ability to step in for her. For the people who love the Virtues Project, it would be like you going to hear a stand in for Deepak Chopra.

      My friend was very disappointed, but he agreed it would automatically put constant pressure on Linda – just what she didn’t need – or frustration on us!

      I truly was in my element for the time we all worked together.

  10. Amazing story, Amy, and the values you both share reflect out from the post. What warmth.

    Sometimes life says, stop. And when life says it you have to listen. Somehow, Life will find a way of getting its message across. So glad Linda found her way onto Oprah eventually and that her special message was heard.

    • So true, Kate, we reach a point where we have to listen to life. As we bloom into maturity, the body doesn’t have the same tolerance for our youthful indulgences such as succumbing to distractions. 🙂

  11. You have some really wonderful & inspiring people in your life. And I am glad that, I know a person like you; who give me something to think about and who share some stories to inspire me and contribute something to the society I belong.
    And the lines on the reverse side of the virtue card are something which I am going to remember for a long time.

  12. An inspiring story, Amy, with so much in it for me to think about. I’m weary at the moment, so the most immediate lesson is to schedule in some time for rest. Thank you 🙂

  13. I also haven’t heard o fPost Polio Syndrome. As if those folks hadn’t suffered enough when they were kids struggling through polio.

    I like Leslie’s reminder for each of us not to QUIT but to refashion…

  14. This is freakish – I had a Chinese Western physician tell me once that I had polio as a child. It made my dad so mad. “We vaccinated you kids!” Uh-oh. Seems that live vaccine gave me a touch of the stuff, and I wonder sometimes just what is aging and what is ‘that.’ But on I go, on WE go – blessings to your dear friend and to you, Amy.

    • If you check out Linda’s “Pace of Grace”, you may be given more insights, Bela. And I agree…aging can be so confusing. I never heard my parents say that…they only groaned about it!

    • Tara, I’ve just been over to visit you. What an example of positive, loving, determined and authentic humanness!

      Look at all you’ve come through – and here you are, standing your ground as a loving, supportive and incredible mother and wife.

      I suspect you will find much you identify with at the Virtues Project site.

      Thank you so much for your welcome comment.

    • With the work you do, the love displayed in your results, and the determination you exemplify, I believe you carry a good amount of perseverance in your heart and soul, Magda!

  15. What a blessing and joy to have this incredible person in your life Amy…such an inspiration…as are you…

    I love the title “A Pace to Grace”…it says it all so concisely and
    lovingly…oftentimes it is this pace that we fail to adjust adequately because
    of the “shoulds” of life as your Mum would say…that keep us from actually pacing our body and spirit in synch…

    Love the quotes…both Rumi’s and The Virtues Project’s…
    Thank you and God bless.

  16. Really enjoyed reading your post. I adore Linda and her work. It’s sad to hear about her post polio condition. I think The Virtues Project is underrated and as a graphic designer I’m doing my part to popularize it. Just wrote a short intro of the project and wanted to add a video featuring Linda on the Oprah Show. Do you have an idea if it’s posted somewhere online this episode when Oprah interviews Linda? Thanks in advance!!!

    • Your statement that the Virtues Project is underrated presents an incredible impression of your beautiful soul, Teodora.

      I have always been – and still am – an Oprah fan. As pumped as I was that The Virtues Project would receive the exposure that usually comes from being on Oprah, when it finally happened, it seemed anti-climatic. Linda was one of a few people featuring projects re enhancing life for children. She was the last guest, time was tight and the interview, in my opinion, presented Linda “with a lid on”. The true essence of Linda or the Project did not unfold in those few short minutes.

      I never discussed this with Linda, but the outcome seemed a blessing. Because of her health, Linda was just beginning to adjust to a new approach to life. If the Oprah show had brought an inundation of attention and requests, her health would have had to take precedence.

      As with so many events around the Virtues Project, presence of The Divine Source seemed obvious. Though I too looked for that show on the Net, her videos on The Virtues Project website are superior in depicting the soul of the Program.

      Linda has begun a Page on Face Book. You can find her at Linda Kavelin-Popov. If you want to ask her about the video, there’s an opportunity to connect.

      • Thanks so much for the kind reply. I have Linda on FB so I’ll try to ask her about the video. Yesterday, I found out about the nominations for the 2013 WISE prize. I don’t have the credentials to nominate, but I guess you have contacts with people and organizations connected with the Virtues Project and use the next 48h. to nominate Linda and VP for the prize. Here’s the link for more info http://www.wise-qatar.org/nominate-wise-prize-2013. I wish I had more connections to spread the word about the VP. Hopefully it will happen in the near/far future.

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